Charm needles ('susuk')

Case contributed by Dr Ian Bickle


Chest radiograph performed as medical assessment for overseas worker entry.

Patient Data

Age: 35 years
Gender: Female

Multiple linear metallic densities projected over the upper right hemithorax and lower neck measuring approximately 5mm, in keeping with charm needles.

Annotated image

Linear metallic density projects over the upper right hemithorax (arrowed).

Case Discussion

In Southeast Asia, in particular, Malay culture, charm needles (termed susuk), are needles are alleged to be made of gold or other precious metals, which are inserted into the soft tissues of the body by a shaman (termed bomoh).

Charm needles have various supposed purposes, chiefly in the treatment of ailments or for cosmetic reasons. Their insertion is supposed to bring beauty. It is for this reason they are most commonly identified in the craniofacial region and breasts of women.

In some culture it is considered "forbidden", and given this, the individual keeps them secret but are revealed when radiographs are taken. Charm needles are notoriously difficult to remove.

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Case information

rID: 19832
Published: 16th Oct 2012
Last edited: 11th Nov 2019
System: Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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